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Early Parliamentary General Election (No. 2)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:06 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 12:06 pm, 9th September 2019

The fundamental question that faces us today about whether or not we should have an early parliamentary election is really the same question we have been debating now for many, many years, and in particular in the past three years in relation to the referendum result. The key question is: who governs this country? That is the issue before us tonight. I have to say, with the greatest concern, that the Labour party has taken the view that it should run away from the very question that it knows it will not be able to answer unless it wins the general election. It also knows that it will not win that general election on all the present estimates. That is the real reason why Labour Members will not answer the question of who governs this country and why they will not, apparently, vote tonight to answer the question and give us a general election.

The Leader of the Opposition kept on saying that he would allow a general election only if the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.6) Bill, which has been given Royal Assent today, was passed. The Bill has been passed, but ironically it still has not answered the question I posed at the beginning about the law of the land and who governs this country. There is nothing in that Act to repeal section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which says, as the law of the land, that 31 October is exit day as we speak in this debate. Section 1 also says that the European Communities Act 1972 is repealed. Furthermore, the commencement order has already been made. There is nothing in the Bill by which anybody can properly accuse the Prime Minister of not complying with the rule of law, because the rule of law sets out 31 October. That is the law of the land and there is nothing in the new Act that says otherwise.

I simply say this: this is a dereliction of duty by the Labour party. It is refusing to allow the British people to decide who governs this country, and it is running away from the fact that under the European Communities Act 1972 and the European Union we are governed by majority vote by the other countries of the European Union. That is how Labour is letting down the very people it represents.

In the leave constituencies of Labour Members, there are people who know very well what is happening, and increasingly, according to the opinion polls, they are not interested in supporting the Labour party, because it is running away from the one central question—who governs Britain?—and the democracy that lies behind it. Give the people the freedom to enable them to decide, instead of the rabble on the other side of the House.